Monday, April 1, 2013

¡Viva la Revolución! Three Years of Revolution Wi-Fi

Three years ago today I started the Revolution Wi-Fi blog as a way to aid my Cisco CCIE Wireless studies. What started out as a location to store and share my notes as I strived to achieve those prestigious "digits" quickly turned into a platform that allowed me to voice my opinions on the state of the industry and to help educate others seeking to know the mysterious ways of WiFi. Now here I am, 212 posts later!

Finding My Style
My writing over time has changed quite a bit. Early on my posts were strictly technical, in a "just-the-facts" type of way. I wasn't accustomed to putting my own analysis and opinions down on paper. Being an engineer meant sticking to the technology allowed me to stay in my comfort zone while trying out this whole blogging thing. This was also quite easy to do since my wireless studies back in 2010 has progressed beyond learning the basic RF foundations (thank you CWNP) and I became entrenched in Cisco-world. Therefore, the early posts focused on the ever-present "Cisco Way" of implementing wireless networks: learning their features, how to configure Cisco networks, and how controllers and APs operated in tandem.

However, as I became more comfortable with blogging, I definitely learned to dive a bit deeper beyond the 0's and 1's to provide a well-reasoned opinion and analysis. I also became more comfortable in my knowledge by interacting with other professionals on social media (especially Twitter) and realizing that the world was woefully short of great Wi-Fi engineers (relative to demand) and needed those with experience and expertise to share their knowledge with others and help grow our ranks. Some of my posts have been controversial, some have touched a nerve (especially with vendors), but mainly I've received overwhelmingly positive feedback on my analysis. Many of my posts have also spurred great conversations that allow me to see alternate perspectives on topics and re-examine my own analysis. That is perhaps the biggest personal benefit I have found through blogging, the ability to deepen my own understanding by interacting with others.

Finally, I've found that I like writing about many complex topics through a series of posts. In the article archives section you'll find series on wireless QoS, fast roaming, high-density networks, 802.11ac Gigabit Wi-Fi, industry analysis, and vendor-specific products. Let's face it, Wi-Fi is a complex subject and requires integration with other equally complex technologies (*ahem* EAP). Designing and deploying wireless networks aren't for the timid; it requires good organization, a focus on planning, thoroughness of execution, and significant attention to detail. I find such complex topics to be best examined with a matching level of detail, broken down into digestible chunks, which lends nicely to writing multi-part articles.

What I've Learned
First, I found early on it was extremely important to establish guiding principles with which I would blog. Those include: 1) to be as objective as possible, 2) to provide relevant and timely content to readers researching often sparsely documented topics, and 3) to help educate others engineers that aspire to be Wi-Fi experts. Without these principles as a blogger, I might as well get paid for my writing as an analyst or vendor-shill. This does not mean that I am unbiased, I'm not. No one is in my estimation. But I strive to take an objective eye, ensure that I'm well-informed, consider alternate perspectives, and provide an honest opinion that I believe is accurate. It's important to understand that the blog post does not end when I hit the publish button. Rather, it only begins. I've placed my knowledge and opinion out there for the world to read and react to. The dialogue after a post has been published is where the topic grows legs, spurs conversations, and allows those participating to grow better at our craft through dialogue with others.

Second, despite working in a digital world, not everything is black and white, 0 or 1. Analysis matters! Where vendor materials pronounce great capabilities but gloss over the important details, independent bloggers pick up the slack and dive-in to separate the oil from the water, the marketing FUD from the real-world benefits.

Third, your employer will have hesitation about you blogging! This can take a variety of shapes, but in general I've found that your employer will be cautious about one of their employees taking such an active role in social media. This can include fear about divulgence of sensitive information, potential impact to brand image (if a public company) or to vendor and partner relationships, and HR related concerns about the opinions you express reflecting the company. Be sure to set clear expectations and guidelines with your employer when you begin blogging, and be prepared to re-visit these topics periodically with management.

Blog Statistics
Over the course of the past 3 years, I've received a total of 904,000+ page views! Wow! Just wow! I'm astonished at how many people visit my little corner of the web. I'm even more amazed at this considering two things: the Wi-Fi engineering world is incredibly small (but is growing daily), and my writing is extremely niche - focusing typically on deep technical subject-matter that not many engineers would even need to read.

My readership has grown over time and my blog receives approximately 2,500 views/day (weekdays) 1,500 views/day (weekends), and 55,000 views/month.

Monthly Readership

It also helps when influential industry websites and experts pick up your content and link to it. That big noticeable spike in August 2012 directly correlates to my post on the Defcon cracking of MS-CHAPv2 being picked up in the comments on one of Bruce Schneier's posts (yes, just mentioned in the comments)!

Most Popular Posts:

Article Title Date Published Total Page Views Avg. Page Views / Month
Wake on Wireless LAN Nov. 8, 2010 65,446 2,256/mo
Apple iPad 3 Wi-Fi Specifications Mar. 8, 2012 34,690 2,668/mo
Is WPA2 Security Broken Due to Defcon MS-CHAPv2 Cracking? July 31, 2012 32,973 4,121/mo
Mac OS X Lion Creating Wi-Fi 802.1X Profiles Feb. 7, 2012 26,257 1,875/mo
Wi-Fi Roaming Analysis Part 2 - Roaming Variations Feb. 2, 2012 7,233 517/mo

Several of my most popular posts are from the past year. Hopefully this means that my content is increasingly touching on the most relevant subjects in the industry and resonating with readers!

Opening Doors
The great thing about blogging is the opportunity it has afforded me in my professional career. I've found that people value independent analysis and that translates into establishing a solid reputation in the industry. I can't count how many times I've been fortunate enough to run into one of my readers who has thanked me for the information that I share through this blog.

Before starting this blog, I thought like many others, that Wi-Fi professionals are too few and far between and that I was alone in my quest for knowledge. Although the group is still comparatively small to route/switch/data center professionals, I've found that other great Wi-Fi engineers do exist. And I've been able to meet many of them through the opportunities presented by blogging and interacting on social media. I've been invited to participate in multiple industry events such as Wireless Field Day and Interop, which are always a pleasure.

Blogging has also opened doors to new jobs, mainly by establishing a reputation as a solid networking professional. A great blog is a digital portfolio you can use to highlight your work, often replacing your resume/CV completely. The best opportunities come through those individuals you meet on the path of enlightenment, which is really what a great blog does - informs your readers and yourself!

What's Next
I've recently started experimenting with vlogging through the high-density Wi-Fi design series. It's my first real attempt at using video to explain concepts and share information. But I'm still not sure if it's right for me; it feels awkward being in front of a camera.

I'll continue to write, for sure, and hope to post articles more frequently. However, that is a struggle with my the amount of travel I'm currently engaged in, and my approach to learning is still very much focused on knowing the subject-matter in-depth. That tends to lead to a very similar approach to writing in depth, which takes significant time and effort to research, lab, and organize my thoughts on a subject.

Final Thoughts
What a ride it's been these last 3 years writing this blog. What started out as a personal journey to acquire my CCIE digits (which I did by the way) turned into a place that I could share my experience and knowledge with world and interact with others equally passionate about Wi-Fi as I am. I've learned a great deal and become a better engineer through the conversations my articles have prompted. I've met many of my readers and received great feedback, giving me the motivation to continue writing. I've met other Wi-Fi professionals and been able to network in the community in ways I never imagined when I started.

I'd like to thank all of my readers, new and old, for having the desire to learn, being passionate about wireless and networking technologies, questioning and challenging my opinions at times, and helping me become a better engineer through the process.

¡Viva la Revolución!



  1. Good job! Extremely valuable blog!

  2. Agree, valuable blog and useful. Im inspired to start my own blog very soon!

  3. Andrew, keep up the great work ! Yours is an excellent blog. I always refer my students to your articles to help them get to grips with complex subjects. All the best, Andrew, and I look forward to more of your posts.

    Neil Mac, CWNE/CWNT